Senate races

Senate Dems make Zika a campaign issue

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The campaign arm for Senate Democrats is hitting vulnerable GOP incumbents over the failure of Congress to reach a on Zika funding before the seven-week summer recess.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) will release a memo Monday arguing that the failure to go on recess without a deal “is perhaps the greatest sign yet that the Republicans, and their irresponsible penchant for reckless partisan obstructionism, are simply not working.”
{mosads}”While Republicans continue to reject commonsense solutions, Democratic Senators and Senate candidates urge their colleagues to return to Washington and authorize emergency spending to fight Zika,” the group writes in the memo, which was obtained by The Hill. 
The DSCC added that if lawmakers fail to pass a “clean” Zika bill, “voters will remember how Republicans put their own partisanship above the safety of our families, and will elect Democratic senators in November.”
Dozens of Senate Democrats and Democratic Senate candidates have called on GOP leadership to either recall lawmakers to Washington or pass Zika legislation during a “pro-forma” session while lawmakers are away, which would require the agreement of every senator. 
Lawmakers left Washington in mid-July after Democrats twice blocked a House-passed bill that would have provided $1.1 billion to fight the Zika virus, which can cause birth defects. Democrats objected over how it was paid for, and also opposed a provision blocking Planned Parenthood funding. The Senate is expected to take a third vote on the bill in September.
Democrats support the Senate’s original agreement, spearheaded by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.). It would also provide $1.1 billion to fight Zika, but unlike the House-passed bill the funding isn’t paid for with other spending cuts or tax hikes. 
The increasingly partisan fight over Zika funding is largely at a standstill as both sides refuse to cave.
House Republicans have balked at supporting the Senate bill. They argue the House-passed bill is the only way to get funding quickly to President Obama’s desk, though the president has pledged to veto it. 
After Democrats and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) called on lawmakers to pass Zika funding last week, Don Stewart, a spokesman for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), blamed Democrats for the holdup. 
“We would love for them to end that filibuster and pass the bill, but it doesn’t sound like they’re prepared to do that,” he said at the time. 
Though Rubio has broken with his party by backing sending lawmakers back to Washington, Democrats are taking aim at him Monday after he opposed allowing pregnant women infected with Zika to get an abortion.
Rubio’s state has been especially hard hit by the Zika virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent an emergency response team to Miami last week, where more than a dozen people are believed to have acquired the Zika virus directly from mosquitoes. 
Tags Marco Rubio Mitch McConnell Patty Murray Roy Blunt

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